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Bridget Johnson

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March 18, 2014 - 2:51 pm

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel today announced reforms crafted in response to the Navy Yard shooting, including automated checks on cleared personnel that will pull information from law enforcement and “other relevant” databases.

Aaron Alexis, a contractor who had red flags that should have been caught in a security clearance check, went on a September shooting rampage at the Navy Yard, killing 12.

“I said at the time that where there are gaps or inadequacies in the Department’s security, we’ll find them and we’ll correct them. And accordingly today, I’m announcing steps DOD is taking to enhance physical security at our installations and improve security clearance procedures, responding to lessons learned from this terrible, terrible tragedy,” Hagel said today at the Pentagon.

“…DOD will implement a continuous evaluation program of personnel with access to DOD’s facilities or classified information, including DOD contractors, military and civilian personnel.  While individuals with security clearances undergo periodic re-investigations, I am directing the Department to establish automated reviews of cleared personnel that will continuously pull information from law enforcement and other relevant databases.”

Next, the department will “establish an insider threat management and analysis center that can quickly analyze the results of these automated record checks, help connect the dots, and determine whether follow-up action is needed.”

Countering inside threats will be consolidated with a single staff assistant at the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence instead of spread among different offices.

“We are reviewing the best ways to move forward on three additional recommendations offered by the independent review panel,” Hagel continued. “We’re going to ensure that these ideas are given a full and serious consideration within the broader context of the recommendations from the 120-day security and stability report that was completed by the Office of Management and Budget earlier this month.”

Those recommendations include cutting the number of personnel with security clearances by at least 10 percent, keeping background checks within the DoD instead of leaving it up to the Office of Personnel Management, and “more effective measures to screen recruits, further destigmatize treatment, and ensure the quality of mental health care within DOD.”

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said the Pentagon’s findings correspond with the committee’s February report on the tragedy.

“The Department and the Committee both concluded that Aaron Alexis could have been stopped and his clearance could have been pulled before the Navy Yard shooting if all information available was properly obtained and reported. Additionally, the Department recognizes that the federal security clearance process must be fixed and agrees with the Committee’s recommendations: continuous evaluation must be implemented; more data is needed for investigations to be complete, including utilizing social media and other Internet sources; and local law enforcement agencies must comply with existing federal law by providing relevant criminal history information to investigators,” Issa said in a statement.

“It is imperative that we fix these glaring problems before another tragedy occurs.  he Committee remains committed to addressing the flaws in the process promptly.”

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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How about when some state police call up a boss that his subordinate is nuts that that guy gets checked out before letting him back to work.
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